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Comeback effort comes up short for Ohio

Miami holds on 30-28 for first win in series since 2012

OXFORD – Ohio fell into a 21-point hole at halftime and its rally fell short as Miami virtually eliminated the Bobcats from Mid-American Conference East Division contention with a 30-28 victory Wednesday night at Yeager Stadium.

Miami (4-6, 4-2 MAC) scored 21 points in the second quarter to take a 28-7 lead and while Ohio’s defense adjusted, the usually high-powered offense never got in gear.

Dylan Conner’s 28-yard return of a blocked punt got Ohio (6-4, 4-2 MAC) to within 28-21 with 9:14 remaining, and the Bobcats got the ball back but a safety was all the second-half points Miami needed. After a punt pinned the Bobcats at the 1-yard line, Nathan Rourke avoided one defender but turned into Doug Costin and stepped on the end line, making it 30-21 with 5:52 to go.

Rourke’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Meyer with 2:24 to go made it a 30-28 game, and after a failed onside kick attempt, Ohio got possession back with 30 seconds left at its own 11-yard line.

Rourke kept the Bobcats alive by shoveling a pass to A.J. Ouellette as he was going down for a gain of 19 yards to the Ohio 45-yard line. Officials originally ruled Rourke was past the line of scrimmage on the throw but that was overturned on replay.

With five seconds left, Quinten Maxwell came in for a hail Mary attempt. While trying to avoid pressure, he throw well short of the end zone and out of bounds.

The RedHawks’ win is their first against the Bobcats since 2012 when they upset a then 7-0 Ohio team. It keeps Miami alive for bowl eligibility and all but locks up the MAC East crown for Buffalo. The Bulls (9-1, 6-0 MAC) need only one win in their final two games or one loss by the Bobcats. Ohio also would need one Miami loss in its final two games to win the East.

After a Jared Dorsa interception, Rourke threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Papi White with 2:32 left in the third quarter to make it 28-14. Failing to get points on its next drive proved a critical error for Ohio.

Ouellette’s second long run of the game, a 46-yarder, was followed by an 11-yarder on the final play of the third quarter, and moved the ball to the Miami 14. The RedHawks held and Louis Zervos missed a 29-yard field goal try wide left.

On the next possession, a bad snap forced Miami punter Kyle Kramer to pick up the ball and scramble. Dorsa blocked his attempt to get off a punt, with Conner scooping and scoring.

Kramer made up for the mistake with his next punt, which pinned Ohio at the 1-yard line and eventually led to the safety that proved to the difference.

Ouellette’s 58-yard run on the game’s opening possession set up a Maleek Irons 3-yard touchdown run to give Ohio a good start. Miami answered quickly with an Alonzo Smith 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7.

Things fell apart for the Bobcats in the second quarter. Kenny Young’s 16-yard touchdown run gave the RedHawks a 14-7 lead at the 11:12 mark. Gus Ragland then threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Luke Mayock with 6:32 left in the half.

Isiah Cox caught a 23-yard pass from Rourke on the next possession but lost the ball as he was going down. Myles Reid recovered and replay review was not conclusive enough as to whether Cox was down for officials to overturn the call. That led to an 8-yard touchdown run by Smith with 3:44 to go to make it 28-7.

After a slow start, Rourke finished 16 of 27 for 163 yards and two touchdowns. White caught five passes for 44 yards. Ouellette had 168 yards on 15 carries. Rourke, who was sacked three times, netted just 16 yards rushing.

Ragland was 20 of 32 for 199 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Young caught seven passes for 67 yards and also rushed seven times for 37 yards. Smith had 95 yards on 20 carries.

Ohio ended up outgaining Miami, 364-357, with a 221-107 advantage in the second half.

The Bobcats host Buffalo at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Peden Stadium on ESPN2.

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